5 Tips for Effective EPM Software Vendor Selection

5 Tips for Effective EPM Software Vendor Selection

Selecting a technology vendor can be a complicated and emotional journey.

When I joined iCIMS 3 years ago, I was immediately tasked with the challenge of selecting an enterprise performance management (EPM) vendor and solution to replace iCIMS’ defunct reporting platform, Adaptive Planning.

Jim Perry video

My team and I spent hours of time debating the merits of on-premises software versus cloud-based solutions and sat through a half dozen vendor demonstrations before selecting Planful and their cloud-based EPM suite as our FP&A partner. Our vendor selection process underscored that the selection of a valued technology partner requires the right team of people who have the knowledge and functional expertise to undergo an in-depth vendor selection process. Both the right people and the right processes are essential prerequisites of system success.  Here are my 5 tips for effective software vendor selection.

People_process_systems_metrics

Tip 1: Define Business Requirements

Assemble an evaluation team that is knowledgeable in the vendor selection process and has a firm understanding of the key business objectives.

  • Define the product and/or service requirements;
  • Define the technical and business requirements;
  • Define the vendor requirements;
  • Compile a requirements document to serve as a rubric during the vendor selection process

Tip 2: Identify Potential Vendors

Next, after the evaluation team has agreed upon a requirements document, compile a short list of vendors who align with the business requirements. Analyst reports such as those offered by Gartner and Forrester are useful benchmarks for vendor due diligence and best practice adoption strategies.

Tip 3: Develop Evaluation Criteria

Third, develop an evaluation scale that weighs each requirement against its value and priority to the organization. This scoring methodology helps to highlight the differentiators of each vendor and rank the importance of each value-add to the business. Informed customers purchase solutions and not products. (How well does the vendor’s solution address your business needs?)

Tip 4: Evaluate Vendors and Schedule Demos

Next, short-listed vendors should provide a solution overview to the business problems which addresses technical requirements, fees, benefits, and key differentiators offered as part of the solution. The demonstration should showcase the capabilities of the solution vis-à-vis the competition and help you evaluate the intangible aspects of the vendor, for instance, excellent customer service or a convenient delivery method.

Tip 5: Complete Vendor Selection and Project Scoping

Lastly, agree upon a clear set of objectives, deliverables, benchmarks, and cost structure with the vendor. These items should be listed along with specific terms and conditions on the face of the agreement.

By leveraging the expertise of the right people and processes, the vendor selection process can be greatly simplified and lead to Kaizen opportunities within your organization. Here at iCIMS, our partnership with Planful has enabled us to reduce our month-end reporting process from days to hours and expand our footprint to incorporate Big Data and platform analytics.

To learn more about the selection and implementation of Planful Cloud EPM Suite at iCIMS, watch this short video interview.

Jim Perry video

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5 EPM Best Practices to Implement Right Now

5 EPM Best Practices to Implement Right Now

There are two kinds of businesses: those that are growing, adapting, and moving forward and those that are losing ground.

Leveraging EPM best practices can often be the difference in a thriving organization and one preparing to Planful a going out of business sale. Investing in EPM is only part of the process. The business also has to learn to make the most out of it so that the solution delivers to its maximum potential.

1. Choose the Right EPM System

Selecting an EPM system that doesn’t meet  your current and future needs is short-sighted and can lead to the need to replace the system within a few years.

bigstock-Two-men-discussing-laptop-pres-84887885When evaluating and selecting an EPM system, organizations need to consider their current as well as future requirements.  Ask yourself the following questions;  Will we need to heavily customize the system to meet our immediate needs?  That can add time and costs to the implementation and make it difficult to upgrade in the future.  Will the system meet our future requirements as the organization grows and increases in complexity?  If you quickly outgrow the system in terms of capabilities, or scalability, that will likely require you to implement other systems that need to be integrated, or to pursue a full replacement – which will be costly and time-consuming. The first step in deriving a strong ROI on EPM system is to select the right system for both your current and future business needs.

2. Make Sure Everyone is Using the EPM System

If some workers are still hoarding spreadsheets or other manual processes, that means that not all of the data is stored in the system. Inadequate or incomplete data will not yield the right results, meaning the EPM analytics is skewed or is totally incorrect. Additionally, if some workers are failing to use the streamlined processes afforded by an EPM solution, they are taking more time than necessary and producing less work than they could — straining resources and harming productivity. For EPM software to be successful, all of the workers have to buy in and use the system properly.

3. Make Information Available Company Wide

The data collected and processed by an EPM system is useful across the organization, not just in the finance department. Businesses that learn to make this information available to other departments can empower their companies to reach greater heights. In fact, the difference between a business overtaking its competitors is often their willingness and ability to share information liberally so that the entire organization can make improvements and demonstrate agility.

4. Keep Finance in Charge of EPM

Though sharing the information offers huge potential, the ownership of the EPM system still belongs to the finance department. The CFO is in the best position to assure that data is entered into the system as it should be and that the proper analytics and reporting are conducted to make the best possible use of that data. Centralizing this process within the finance department also assures that compliance guidelines are met, that proper forecasting can be done with the data, and that the users are properly trained on the EPM software.

5. Be Sure Training and Improvements are Ongoing

Make sure that workers hired after the initial EPM adoption process are afforded the same level of training as the first group of workers to use the product were provided.

bigstock-Business-presentation-on-corpo-89684099

In order for an EPM solution to be successful, training can’t be a one-and-done process. The workers who hire on a year or two years after the system is implemented should be afforded the same training as those who were there when the software was first made available to the workers. If training is allowed to slip over time, the usefulness and power of the EPM solution will slide along with it.

To learn more about how to select an EPM solution, download this free whitepaper, “A Buyers to Enterprise Performance Management Suites” from Planful.

Download the EPM Buyer’s Guide

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Management Accounting – Helping Accountants Grow the Beans

Management Accounting – Helping Accountants Grow the Beans

Managers are increasingly shifting from reacting to after-the-fact reported outcomes to anticipating the future with predictive analysis and proactively making adjustments with better decisions.

Despite some advances in the application of new costing techniques such as activity-based costing, are management accountants adequately satisfying the needs of managers and employee teams for decision-based cost information? Or is the gap widening? That is, are the accountants still just counting the beans, or are they helping to grow the beans? 

There is a difference between what management accountants report and what managers and employee teams want. This does not mean that information produced by accountants is of little value. In the last few decades, accountants have made significant strides in improving the utility and accuracy of the costs they calculate and report. The gap is being caused by a shift in managers’ needs – from needing to know what things cost (such as a product cost) and what happened – to a need for more purposeful information about what their future costs might be and why – what can happen?

 What is the Purpose of Management Accounting?

Contrary to beliefs that the only purpose of managerial accounting is to collect, validate, transform and report data, its primary purpose is first and foremost to influence behavior at all levels – from the desk of the CEO down to each employee – and it should do so by supporting decisions. A secondary purpose is to stimulate investigation and discovery by signaling relevant information (and consequently bringing focus) and generating questions. 

The widening gap between what accountants report and what decision makers need involves the shift from analyzing descriptive historical information to analyzing predictive information, such as budgets, cost estimates and what-if scenarios. Obviously, all decisions can only affect the future, because the past is already history. However, there is much that can be learned and gained from historical information. Although accountants are gradually improving the quality of reported history, decision makers are shifting their view toward better understanding the future.

This shift is a response to a more overarching shift in executive management styles to an anticipatory, proactive style where organizational changes and adjustments, such as staffing levels, can be made before things happen and before minor problems become big ones.

An Accounting Framework and Taxonomy

The large domain of accounting has three components: tax accounting, financial accounting, and managerial accounting. There are two types of data sources. One source is from financial transactions and bookkeeping, such as purchases and payroll. The other source is non-financial measures such as payroll hours worked, retail items sold, or gallons of liquid produced.

The financial accounting component is intended for external reporting, such as for regulatory agencies, banks, stockholders and the investment community. Financial accounting follows compliance rules aimed at economic valuation, and as such is typically not adequate or sufficient for internal decision making within an organization. (The tax accounting component is its own world of legislated rules.)

Our area of concern – the management accounting component – can be broken into three categories: cost accounting, cost reporting and analysis, and decision support with cost planning. To oversimplify a distinction between financial and managerial accounting, financial accounting is about valuation whereas in contrast managerial accounting is about value creation through good decision making.

The three managerial accounting categories are all recipients of inputs from the “cost measurement” procedure of transforming incurred expenses (or their obligations) into calculated costs. They are these:

  • Cost Accounting represents the assignment of expenses into outputs, such as the cost of goods sold and the value of inventories. It primarily provides external reporting to comply with regulatory agencies.
  • Cost Reporting and Analysis represents the insights, inferences and analysis of what has already taken place in the business in order to track performance.
  • Decision Support with Cost Planning involves decision making and taking. It also represents using the historical cost reporting information in combination with other economic information, including forecasts and planned changes (e.g., processes, products, services, channels) in order to make the types of decisions that lead to financial success.

 The last two categories offer diagnostic support to interpret and draw inferences from what has already taken place and what can happen in the future, respectively. Cost reporting and analysis is about explanation. Decision support with cost planning is about possibilities. See graphic below.

gary_cokins_accounting_styles-269882-edited

What? So What? Then What?

The message here is that the value and usefulness of the information increase, arguably at an exponential rate, from the cost accounting to decision making. Cost reporting displays the reality of what has happened, and provides answers to “What?” That is, what did things cost last period?

However, an obvious follow-up question should be “So what?” That is, based on any questionable or bothersome observations, is there merit to making changes and interventions? How relevant to improving performance is the outcome we are seeing? But this leads to the more critical need to propose actions – to make and take decisions – surfaced from cost planning. This is the Then what?” question. For example, what change can be made or action taken (such as a distributor altering its distribution routes), and what is the ultimate impact? Should we internally make a product or deliver a service, or should we purchase it or outsource it?

Business Analytics and Cost Modeling

Of course, any proposed changes will lead to multiple effects on customer service levels, quality and delivery times, but the economic effect on profits and costs should also be considered. This gets to the heart of the widening gap between accountants and decision makers who use accounting data. To close the gap, accountants must change their mindset from managerial accounting to managerial economics which we might describe as “decision-based costing.”

This is where business analytics, especially predictive and prescriptive analytics, comes into play. The ultimate way that managers can test the outcome of decisions is to deploy robust methods of forecasting combined with valid cost-estimating techniques based on reliably measured past-period “calibrated” per-unit-level cost consumption rates, such as from an activity-based costing system. Then they will be more confident that what they want to change will have the effect that they expect and desire.

 

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Looking for Cloud-Based EPM? You Better Shop Around

Looking for Cloud-Based EPM? You Better Shop Around

As Finance executives in mid-sized and larger enterprises look to replace their current on-premises EPM applications, they are often are too quick to consider only the cloud-based EPM solutions offered by their current ERP or EPM vendors.

Download the Gartner Report

But there are many other alternatives in the market that can provide equivalent functionality, often at a lower cost. So remember the old song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: “My mama told me, ‘You better shop around.’”

Adoption of Cloud-Based Financial Applications Is Accelerating

Finance executives are becoming more comfortable with the notion of deploying their financial applications in the cloud, and many are re-evaluating their on-premises systems and considering cloud-based alternatives. This trend was validated in a recent survey by Gartner and FEI that highlighted how Finance teams are increasingly considering cloud-based applications. 

According to the August 2015 report titled “Survey Analysis: Critical CFO Technology Needs: 2015 Gartner FEI Study”, the projected use of the cloud has doubled over that in the 2014 study for business analytics, integrated financial management applications, and many CPM areas. 

Don’t Feel “Stuck” with Your Current ERP or EPM Vendor

In many cases, when companies start looking to move their EPM applications to the cloud, the natural inclination for buyers is to first consider the cloud-based EPM solutions offered by the incumbent EPM or ERP vendor, such as Oracle, SAP or IBM. But buyer beware – there are many other alternatives out there to consider, and not all cloud-based solutions are created equal.

Some vendors have taken legacy on-premises budgeting and planning applications and moved them to the cloud as Planfuled offerings. These “single-tenant” cloud solutions don’t offer the same benefits as multitenant cloud solutions in terms of time to value, costs to deploy, and innovation speed. The nuances to be considered here were covered in an earlier blog article titled “Don’t Be Fooled by Fake Cloud Finance Systems”.

Assess Who Can Best Support Your Needs

So what’s the best way to identify alternatives to cloud-based EPM applications offered by the “mega vendors”? Gartner and other IT industry analyst firms recommend that organizations assess their key requirements and then identify the vendors who can best meet their current and future needs. 

In the 2015 report, “Critical Capabilities for Corporate Performance Management Suites”, Gartner uses customer survey data to assess each vendor’s ability to deliver critical CPM capabilities matched to four specific use cases. The use cases are as follows:

  • Public or private organizations with less than $250 million in annual revenue,
  • Public or private organizations with $250 million to $1 billion in annual revenue,
  • Public or private organizations with more than $1 billion in annual revenue, and
  • Individual business units within large organizations.

In this report, Planful was ranked as the #1 solution for companies with $250 – $1B in revenue and was and ranked in the top 5 in the other segments as well. Read our recent blog article on this topic to learn more about these criteria and how Planful was ranked in this Gartner report.

Learn from Others Who “Shopped Around”

A number of companies who took the time to “shop around” and look for alternatives to their incumbent ERP or EPM vendors have found viable solutions from Planful. And in most cases, they were able to get equivalent functionality at a lower cost with faster implementation and better ease of use. Here’s a link to a recent video interview with Patty Freeman of Earthlink, where she discusses the company’s decision to “shop around”, why Earthlink selected Planful, and the value it gets from the solution. 

To learn more about Planful Cloud EPM Suite and how it can provide a viable alternative to your current on-premises EPM solution, check out the resources below:

http://www.hostanalytics.com/solutions/oracle-hyperion-migration-program

http://www.hostanalytics.com/customers/customer-videos

http://www.hostanalytics.com/customers/case-studies

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Selecting a Scalable, High-Performance EPM System

Selecting a Scalable, High-Performance EPM System

Many organizations are realizing that they’ve outgrown spreadsheets and legacy EPM applications and are evaluating cloud-based EPM solutions as a replacement. 

But as organizations identify and evaluate cloud-based EPM applications, they need to ensure the system they’re selecting can meet both their current and future requirements in terms of application modules, number of users, and data volumes. 

In essence, when you’re first getting started, ensure that your EPM system is designed for high performance and scalability and that you won’t outgrow your next EPM system.

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Spreadsheets Are Out:   Cloud-Based EPM Is In

In a prior blog article titled “Don’t Outgrow Your EPM Solution,” I wrote about the challenges growing organizations face when relying on spreadsheets for EPM processes—such as challenges in budgeting, planning, and financial reporting. 

Then I highlighted the mistake that many organizations make by selecting an entry-level EPM solution that meets current requirements but provides limited functionality and scalability to meet future ones.  The system is quickly outgrown. Thus, the organization needs to replace it and implement another solution, which takes up valuable time, resources, and budget. 

In some more recent articles, I’ve highlighted how the adoption of cloud-based EPM solutions is rapidly increasing.  In an article titled “Cloud-Based EPM – The Time Has Come,” I discussed the benefits organizations are gaining from cloud-based EPM solutions: 

  • Deployments are faster.
  • Costs are lower.
  • Innovations come faster.
  • The cloud is more secure than on-premises systems.

And more recently, I highlighted how Nucleus Research found that the cloud delivers 1.7 times more ROI than on-premises applications. The advantages and business case for cloud-based EPM are clear.  But what should you look for in a cloud-based EPM suite to ensure your organization doesn’t outgrow the solution?  What type of architecture ensures the scalability and availability of the solution?

 A Scalable, High-Performance, Cloud-Based Architecture

Planful recently published a white paper that documents the key architectural and technology advantages of our cloud-based EPM suite. These advantages deliver the required performance and scalability that our customers demand to meet current and future needs.  Here’s a brief summary:

  • Three-Tier, Multitenant Cloud Architecture – all customers share a single, common code line and scalable, elastic infrastructure.  This approach also ensures that version upgrades and service fixes are applied simultaneously to the production environment for all customers
  • High-Performance Data Management Layer – here we employ a “fit-for-purpose” approach using multiple database technologies.  Relational, OLAP, and NoSQL databases are leveraged to ensure high performance and scalability for transactional processing, analytics, and modeling.
  • Comprehensive Reporting – reporting that supports a broad range of users and needs, such as financial statements, board books, interactive dashboards, and Excel integration.  All of this with a single, integrated toolset and a common data source.
  • Intuitive User Interface Layer – user interface designed to support the ongoing needs of Finance and line-of-business users. Interface is easy to learn and provides high productivity and fast adoption.
  • Powerful Data Integration – data can be sourced from on-premises as well as cloud-based ERP, HCM, CRM, and other systems.
  • High-Availability Cloud Architecture– solution backed by a money-back uptime and performance SLA guarantee for key processes, with real-time transaction monitoring and automated notification services to customers.

Planful provides cloud-based EPM solutions for organizations, ranging from fast-growing startups to large multi-nationals. Given the range of customers served, the technology and architecture of Planful Cloud EPM Suite is designed to provide ease of use for Finance users. It also provides high performance and scalability to support both current and future requirements of customer organizations.

It is designed to ensure that customers don’t outgrow the solution. They will continue to experience the same level of response time and performance as they add more users to the system, as their user and data volumes grow, and as their use-cases expand.

To learn more about the architecture and technology behind the Planful Cloud EPM Suite, download our recent whitepaper “Ensuring You Don’t Outgrow Your EPM System.”

Download the Free White Paper

 

 

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A Visible Executive Sponsor – Critical for a Successful EPM Project

A Visible Executive Sponsor – Critical for a Successful EPM Project

A lot of business books, blogs, articles, and whitepapers talk about 'visible executive sponsorship' and how important it is when making a big move like selecting EPM software.

Is it really that crucial? How can you get it? What role should the executive sponsor play during each phase of the project?

What a Visible Executive Sponsor Is

The more powerful your sponsor is within the organization, the more obstacles they can break through on the way to meeting your goal.

bigstock-Business-Woman-876649A visible executive sponsor is an executive within a company that takes on the role of proponent, advocate, and delegate for a specific project, in this case, selection and implementation of EPM software. The sponsor, as the name indicates, isn’t just a quiet partner. This person is vocal and active throughout the process, helping assure that senior and middle management is on board, that the necessary resources are channeled to the project, and that the team in charge of the project has the support they need to complete EPM implementation on time and within budget.

Why a Visible Executive Sponsor is Important

There are many reasons why a visible executive sponsor benefits the process of EPM software selection and implementation:

  • The sponsor can keep the selection team on track and aligned with the goals and mission of the company as a whole.
  • The sponsor can enlist the support of other leaders within the organization.
  • The sponsor can make sure the EPM selection and implementation team has the resources they need.
  • The sponsor can assure that all stakeholders within the organization are identified and mobilized to support the team’s efforts.
  • The sponsor continues to communicate and support the project over time, as enthusiasm and support tends to wane. This assures that the project retains durability.

How to Choose a Visible Executive Sponsor

How can you pick the right sponsor for your EPM selection and implementation team?

  • Choose an executive as high up the ladder as possible. You want someone with the power, authority, and influence to get things done that might otherwise meet with resistance.
  • Choose someone who is an effective communicator.
  • Choose someone who believes in the project. If they aren’t convinced to their core that the project is important, it will be easy for them to lose focus and enthusiasm over time.

How to Use Your Visible Executive Sponsor

The best way to use your ‘visible executive sponsor’ is, well, to make sure (s)he remains visible regarding the project, the needs, and the successes.

Once you have the right candidate, make the best use of him or her by providing a platform to get out the word and the information to make a compelling argument for EPM software. This includes:

  • Kick off your project with an event and get your sponsor to speak. Arm them with a great presentation full of lots of hard facts on the benefits of EPM, as well as attractive images and displays.
  • Have your executive contribute to the organization’s periodical newsletter. Include updates on the project, announcements, and pleas for support. If the executive is too busy, have someone on your team write the updates and get the sponsor to sign off on it.
  • Get your sponsor in front of employees and other executives to speak about the project as often as possible. Don’t miss opportunities like company-wide holiday parties, shareholder meetings, and board meetings, where the sponsor has a chance to update or make pleas for the team in front of the most valuable stakeholders.
  • Have the sponsor celebrate milestones and successes with your team. This helps keep motivation high and gives the sponsor ammunition to combat any resistance that (s)he or the team might be facing.

The selection and implementation process for EPM software isn’t an overnight deal. Although it’s a lot easier than implementing an ERP system – it takes some time, a bit of effort, and no small amount of commitment. The right visible executive sponsor can keep the project in motion when time, budget constraints, and other obstacles make it easy to give up. To learn more about choosing and rolling out a new EPM system, visit Planful and download the free whitepaper, ‘A Buyer’s Guide to Enterprise Performance Management Suites‘ today.

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Enterprise Performance Management vs. Enterprise Resource Planning

Enterprise Performance Management vs. Enterprise Resource Planning

It takes a lot of software to manage the operations of an enterprise, and two of the most useful and utilized are Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

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The Evolving Role of the CFO

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While it seems like the industry has been talking about the “evolving role of the CFO’ forever, there is always a new twist or area of focus to consider. 

A recent Argyle CFO survey validated our view that Finance is becoming the “information hub” of the organization.   It also highlighted how CFOs are becoming a powerful change agent and are partnering more closely with line of business managers. 

Keeping with this theme, we recently recorded an interview with Planful CFO Ian Charles to get his take on this subject of the evolving role of the CFO. 

In this short video, you can hear Ian’s view on the role of the CFO as co-pilot to the CEO, likening it to the role of a tactician on a sailboat providing data and metrics to the captain.  He also provides his views on the skills required for a successful Finance team, including the need to work effectively across functions.  And he highlights the opportunity for Finance to forge a better link with operations, especially when it comes to the planning process.   Finally, you can hear Ian’s view on the key skills needed to be a successful CFO in today’s fast-changing market.

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What’s the Buzz about the Future of Finance ?

There’s been a lot of industry buzz recently about how organizations are increasingly embracing the cloud as the modern way to deploy EPM and other Finance software applications. 

In fact, in a recent blog article on this topic, I called out 2015 as the “tipping point” for this transition.

At Planful, we believe cloud-based EPM truly enables customers to embrace the “future of finance.” It provides tremendous benefits to customers: speed of delivery, autonomy from IT, faster innovation, reduced costs, and better security. 

If you would like to learn more about Planful’ view on cloud-based EPM, as well as our vision, watch this short video interview with Planful CEO Dave Kellogg.  In this 4-minute video, Dave highlights the following:

  • The benefits of cloud-based EPM
  • Planful’ vision to disrupt the EPM market, unite Finance and Operations, and put the “E” back in EPM
  • What makes Planful different from other cloud-based EPM vendors
  • How our customers are embracing the future and becoming true business partners with other parts of their organizations

To hear Dave live and learn more about our solutions, please register for one of our upcoming “Future of Finance” roadshow events.

Join Us

 

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Planful Summer ’15 – Improved Performance and Chrome Support

Planful Summer ’15 – Improved Performance and Chrome Support

Planful is pleased to announce the Summer ‘15 Release of our Cloud EPM Suite! 

This quarterly release includes more than 75 enhancements and new features.  Here are some of the key highlights.

Planning, Consolidation & Reporting

-Extended Google Chrome browser support 

Many customers have been utilizing Google Chrome since we announced official support earlier this year.  With this release, all end user functions in Reporting and Consolidation are now fully supported on Google Chrome for Windows and Mac (OS X).  For Planning we support the most common templates for input (90%), and we’ve extended this to Workforce Planning, Budget Admin, Application Admin, and Budget end user.  The design is planned for Fall ’15 (Nov).  This means that end users on both Windows and Mac (OS X) platforms can perform their roles using Google Chrome.

We’ve also significantly expanded the number of administrator tasks which is about 2x what we had from the previous release and covers the majority of the admin activities.  This includes Security Administration, Budget Templates, Capital Budgets, Modeling, and Data Integration.  We plan to provide support for all admin and maintenance functions on Google Chrome by the Winter ’16 release (Feb 2016).  In addition, Windows 10 with Edge is planned to be supported with the Fall ’15 release.  

The new “state of the art” HTML5 grid is now available, and includes virtual rendering and progressive loading, which provides amazing performance and the ability to handle massive amounts of data.

-Additional performance improvements to optimize your planning and consolidation process

Enhanced scalability and performance improvements have been delivered across the suite with 90% of the application infrastructure components updated and optimized with the most modern technology.  This results in up to 2x performance improvements when opening and saving Planning templates and when executing a Consolidation process.  In addition, only changed data is saved and not the entire Planning template which further enables the support of any size customer.  

-Enhanced Cloud Scheduler

The Cloud Scheduler was initially integrated with Box, and it’s been expanded to support three new use cases.  Scenario Processing for Financial Reporting is now run completely in the Cloud which provides parallel processing and enhanced reliability.  Report Collections have been added and include new frequency types.  There are no limitations in the number of process flows that can be executed.  All queuing and monitoring is specific to each tenant and are run in parallel.  Dynamic Journals and Reclassifications are also now executed in the Cloud.  

Modeling

The focus for the Summer ’15 release of Planful Modeling was on data integration flexibility, security and support enhancements, and advanced reporting and analysis features.

-Streamline model build and maintenance with API’s and scheduled integration processes

  • Data Integration API’s support loading data & metadata from external source systems including Salesforce.com, NetSuite, flat files, etc.
  • Scheduling the data load process by leveraging the API’s via cloud-based integration solutions like Dell Boomi. 
  • Support for data load access tokens – create a user token that can be used by API’s for data (loading/clearing/calculating) and metadata (loading/clearing) 

-Enhanced security, trust and support access

  • Enterprise SSO support utilizing SAML 2.0 – optimized implementation of SSO to support larger community of SSO users
  • Zendesk (Support) and Get Satisfaction (Community) native integration

-Modeling enhancements provide more robust forecasting and analysis capabilities

  • Cross-Application integration – map data between ANY application to support customers with multiple Modeling applications
  • Application Database Statistics – Holistic view of the application statistics 

-Robust Reporting with Excel Add-in (Spotlight XL)

  • Multi-tab reporting – ability to have multiple reports open as separate tabs.  Supports the ability to save workbook, reopen, and refresh all tabs with current data for iterative analysis
  • Cascaded reporting – ability to define a reporting block including formatting that can be repeated across a report based upon a relationship definition of other hierarchical dimensions (i.e. children, children inclusive of parent).  Automatically updates the report definition if new members are added requiring no ongoing maintenance of the reports

I’m incredibly proud to be part of the Planful team and the Summer ‘15 release is a great example of the customer-focused, innovative and market-differentiating capabilities we’re delivering.  These capabilities will enable us to continue to be the leader in cloud-based EPM and scale with customers of any size.

To find out more you can view our full release notes in our online help and discuss these new enhancements via our Customer Community.  

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